Be Logical Empowered Skeptics

Today’s But if Not is my small part to try to combat the fear of vaccine movement.

I used to listen to Imus in the Morning while getting ready for work.  I listened, despite the show host, because he had interesting guests.  (The host was a rather ignorant bore.)  Eventually I quit listening because I tired of listening to him spread righteous nonsense about the link between vaccines and autism.  Please, please, please, I thought, just pick your head-up beyond the flat horizon and the edge of the world and consider the curvature.

And he even got otherwise reasonable, intelligent guests to sign-on to his witch-hunt crusade.

Well, the garlic is being hung from many popular internet portals to drive off the pseudoscience vampires of fear.  The study showing a connection between vaccines and autism has not just been called into question, it has been shown to be a fraud.  Further the reputable medical journal, the British Journal of Medicine, that originally published the story has retracted.

But the damage has been done.  From an article in AOL News (chosen by this author for its pop culture publishing slant):

Nevertheless, trumpeted by activists and a sensationalist media, after the article appeared vaccination levels fell in both the U.K. and the U.S., while the diseases they prevented surged. “One person’s research set us back a decade, and we’re just now recovering from that,” Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego

And incidence of the very diseases meant to be prevented with these vaccines are increasing.

California is suffering its worst pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak since 1947, with about 8,000 cases last year. In the 1980s, there were just a handful annually. Sixty percent of those hospitalized have been infants. Ten have died.

Coincidence? Pertussis expert Blaise Congeni of Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio calls California “the epicenter of vaccine refusal.”

Finally from the Michael Specter in the New Yorker

If only it were possible to retract the fear and confusion the article caused. Unfortunately, that could take at least another decade
If only. 
While autism rates have been rising dramatically, the increase appears to be almost entirely the result of more diagnoses because of increased surveillance and a broadened definition. This is true of many disorders such as sleep apnea, which “increased” 12-fold in just nine years.
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3 Responses to Be Logical Empowered Skeptics

  1. EJ says:

    Thanks as always SOB. Nothing to add to the autism/vaccine discussion that you haven’t pointed out or that the others haven’t stated. We did all the vaccines for our son as they came due; I feel it is like the points previously made about a cancer causing diet: once studies come out that prove the link between one and the other, I’m confident as a society we’ll stop the practice. Maybe I’m just a follower. Or maybe I don’t question doctors, authorities, etc enough, but WTF. Oh well.

    As for Imus, I was a listener off and on since the ’70s. Growing up in CT, we used to get the flagship station 66 WNBC (can still hear the call) being dragged around town on my mother’s errands on hot summer-vacation days in the station wagon with no AC and an AM radio. I stopped listening when he was yanked over the Rutgers scandal, and haven’t tuned back in to wherever he’s airing these days. Talk about hypocritical, I listened intently during those few days after the comments were made and before he was pulled off the air (coincidentally, that very week was a telethon for the Imus Ranch that Deirdre and McCord had to run), and I was appalled at the number of his Congressional and Major Network newscaster- guests who came on and scolded him for how he had crossed the line for years with his racist overtones. Hmm, didn’t seem to bother them before the scandal. And then oddly he finally got pulled only when the advertisers started bailing.

  2. Stacie says:

    I didn’t know about the retraction, Sean. I’m sharing it with my sister who is an occupational therapist who works with children with autism. The experts in her field of study have wondered about this connection for some time based on the trends they see in the children that come to them and the stories they hear from parents about pre and post vaccination behavior. On an interesting note, our other sister was hesitant to give her baby the vaccines and he did get Pertosis within the first year of his life. He’s been battling pneumonia this year and just had to have his tonsils and annoids removed due to infection. We’ve had lots of discussion around our houses about these issues so I will share the latest with them.

  3. Rick C says:

    Thanks for the post. I heard this story over the weekend and immediately thought about the scores of children who weren’t vaccinated because of what’s turned out to be fraudulent findings and whether it’d be possible for the harm to be undone. The article you shared yesterday about the decline effect and now this (let’s call it the deceive effect) should be enough to inspire healthy skepticism in us all. My wife and I have subscribed to the Berkeley Wellness Newsletter for years, and it’s been fascinating to watch the results of various studies announced only to have contradictory findings published a couple of years later (“Our Bad: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream *Not* a Cure for Gout” — okay, I made that one up.) Guess the best approach is to get information from as many sources as possible, get even more information, make the most informed decision you can based on that info, and then hang on.

    As on aside: I also used to listen to Imus in the morning because of his guests (and his, or at least an associate’s, taste in music), but I reached my breaking point with his shtick and his single-minded preaching, and I tuned out. I do, however, appreciate his New Mexico-based Imus Ranch and — speaking of his taste in music — the two Imus Ranch CDs that have been released in support of the venture. It’s been worth feeling a little bit like a hypocrite to get my hands on previously unreleased songs from the likes of Dwight Yoakam, John Hiatt (a swell take on the Bottle Rockets’ “Welfare Music”), Jamey Johnson, Hayes Carll, Levon Helm, and Raul Malo (a majestic version of the Margaret Rich-penned, Charlie Rich-sung “Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs”).

    Note: I am not a member of the Imus Ranch Record street team, merely a dedicated fan of rootsy music.

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